March/April 2023 - 10

The power of curiosity
A block planted in 2014 had a few trees
that were significantly - 100% to 200%
- larger than their neighboring trees.
After asking his farm manager multiple
times to assure they were planted at the
same time (they were), Putt went out
with a soil probe and pulled a sample.
Those trees had been planted over
an old burn pile. The results came
back with a CEC of 25. This is what led
Putt to using ash applications.
" I'm particularly lucky some of
the time that I have a tremendous
curiosity, " Putt said.
and applying products from companies like Heliae
(Phycoterra) and Redox.
He's also trying entomopathogenic fungi like Beauveria
bassiana on Cape Fear for bacterial leaf scorch. Though
it can be used as a foliar and soil application, Putt opts
for soil, since the beneficial fungi propagates in the soil,
travels through the vascular tissue in the plant, and
overtakes the bacteria that plugs the xylem and causes
scorch. Though unproven, the farm saw enough positive
results to continue trials.
" I think that if you can get your beneficial fungal and
bacterial communities to the diversity and abundance
that it needs to be, I think you can load your soils to
where anything the plant might need at any time is
already there, " said Putt.
Putt is a voracious reader, including resurrected
manuscripts from historically silenced experts. He also
is an observer. As he compiles information from outside
sources and results from his own on-farm experiments, he
estimates that it'll take five years to really put everything
into practice in an effective way.
Some goals in this plan are to get the CEC to 25 or
above, increase organic matter by 2.5%, and get leaf
brix to 9 to eliminate susceptibility to mites and aphids,
grasshoppers and caterpillars. The farm is also aiming to
eliminate glyphosate applications, use as few herbicides as
possible and use no synthetic fertilizers. Putt understands
these are lofty goals, but he also considers being halfway
there a success.
Alternate bearing ... or are they?
Alternate bearing is often labeled as one of the biggest
challenges of the productive cycle. In the family's
Schermer Pecans orchards, there are three varieties -
Curtis, Elliot and Creek - that are generally recognized
as alternate bearing, but the swings are not nearly as
dramatic on these farms.
" We've essentially pulled the alternate bearing
component out of them, " he said.
Before regenerative practices, Curtis would follow its
on year with only 5% to 8% of the crop. Elliot wasn't quite
as bad, but it was bad enough that growers didn't really
want to farm it. Creek will overload to a point that if it's
not fruit thinned, there won't be a crop the following
year, and the quality will decline in the year that it's
overloaded, said Putt.
" But we haven't crop thinned a Creek in 10 years, " he said.

March/April 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March/April 2023

March/April 2023 - 1
March/April 2023 - 2
March/April 2023 - 3
March/April 2023 - 4
March/April 2023 - 5
March/April 2023 - 6
March/April 2023 - 7
March/April 2023 - 8
March/April 2023 - 9
March/April 2023 - 10
March/April 2023 - 11
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